10 October 2021
Universal credit has been high in the headlines this week as the government cut it by £20 a week. We joined many others in strongly condemning this cut, knowing just how much pressure it will place on already-struggling families. Some have argued that the cut might harm the mental health of those affected, and parents have expressed this fear to us. The social security system should be a source of support for those experiencing mental health problems, rather than a cause of those problems. This World Mental Health Day, we are reflecting on how well the system provides that support.
08 October 2021
Court of Appeal has today overturned a High Court decision that the DWP's approach to the disapplication of the benefit cap in universal credit (UC) on the basis of earnings received in a monthly assessment period is irrational and unlawful. High Court case was brought by a working single mother on UC who was benefit-capped – and left up to £5,000 worse off per year – purely because her employer paid her four-weekly rather than by calendar month.
20 September 2021
This report focuses on some of the problems UC claimants are experiencing both making a claim for UC and receiving accurate payments, which appear to be caused by the digitalisation and automation of the UC system. Claimants who have specific life circumstances are experiencing similar problems because the UC computer system seems unable to calculate their UC payment correctly and in accordance with the law.
14 September 2021
What is a minimum income guarantee? There are numerous models that have been proposed, but the general idea is that everyone should be entitled to a minimum level of income. In Scotland, it has been suggested that this level should be set with reference to a minimum income standard. However, it is often assumed that this guarantee can only be delivered by some kind of means-tested payment to lift incomes up to the threshold, but as we shall see this minimum can actually be achieved in a number of ways.
17 August 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the shortcomings of the UK’s social security system. As we move out of the pandemic, there is a need to grasp this opportunity to debate and start planning for a new and better social security settlement. In this briefing note, aimed at campaigners, policy makers, and those engaged in anti-poverty work, we argue that this must be an expansive debate that has the expertise of people with experience of poverty and social security at its centre. We reflect on the participatory work of Covid Realities, and on the ambitious and radical proposals for reform developed by its participants.
12 August 2021
In March 2021, parents and carers living on a low income met with parliamentarians over Zoom to mark a year of lockdown. At the meeting, facilitated as part of the Covid Realities research programme, parents set out what they believe needs to change if the future is to be a better one for all of us.
30 July 2021
Last October, Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis tweeted a warning about the ‘huge sink hole awaiting many self-employed’ people when the suspension of universal credit’s minimum income floor ended. While the government extended the suspension, it now ends this week. Self-employed workers up and down the country will start to be affected (with some possible concessions) after 31 July, and may face huge financial difficulties as a result.
21 July 2021
In attempting to justify the unjustifiable, namely the cut to universal credit that is due in October, secretary of state for work and pensions Thérèse Coffey said the government was: ‘shift[ing] the focus strongly on to getting people into work.’ But this is a cut that will affect millions of working families. The government has subjected our social security system to so many cuts and freezes that families desperately needed the £20 increase and it must stay, but universal credit’s very design still makes it hard for parents to escape poverty through work.
21 July 2021
Universal credit (UC) is now the main working-age benefit in the UK. Since its inception, UC has been plagued with administrative issues and budget cuts and, as a result, its early promise to reduce poverty has yet to be realised. When the pandemic hit, swift changes were needed to make UC fit for purpose including an increase in the amount of financial support provided and a relaxation of some of its most punitive rules. However, the vast majority of these positive changes have already been reversed, or are due to be reversed in the coming months.
22 June 2021
This is the fourth in a series of regular briefings which highlight some of the persistent gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence of these gaps is drawn from our Early Warning System (EWS) which collects case studies from frontline practitioners working directly with families on the problems they are seeing with the social security system.